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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — You're a 16th century German prince plotting to crush a peasant rebellion, or perhaps you're leading an army against the Ottoman Empire or looking to settle the score with a rival nobleman.
What's a guy looking for a tactical edge to do?
Bring on the rocket cats!
Fanciful illustrations from a circa-1530 manual on artillery and siege warfare seem to show jet packs strapped to the backs of cats and doves, with the German-language text helpfully advising military commanders to use them to "set fire to a castle or city which you can't get at otherwise."
WWII was the golden age of the dive bomber. Dive bombers were especially used to attack high-value targets, such as ships. But even experienced pilots in state-of-the-art planes sometimes missed. How could military engineers improve accuracy when the guidance technology at the time was so limited? If you just jumped to your feet and shouted "Cats, of course!" then you, too, can be a military engineer.
Dear God, What Have We Done?
According to the book A Higher Form of Killing, this was a project of the Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency).
The thinking was that cats hated water so much that, if you dropped a cat bomb in the general vicinity of a ship, the cat would instinctively guide the bomb to the deck below in order to avoid getting wet. Exactly how a 10 pound cat was supposed to guide a 500 pound bomb is unclear. In fact, the entire concept may have been based on experts' confusion between real cats and the sentient ones you see in cartoons.
The project never got past the testing stage. It seems the cats tended to lose consciousness when plunging towards the earth at terminal velocity while strapped to a bomb. And that, as much as anything, is why cats will never be man's best friend.
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